Dr. Panda Plus: Home Designer is the best Augmentative (AR) Reality app and toy we have used thus far with young children. What a privilege it is to review this masterly crafted playset. It has all the features of a true educational package that is respectful of a child’s developmental level and facilitates the skills needed to challenge a child’s skill base by using familiar play schemes. Gameplay centers on designing and mixing features of a home – floors, walls, furniture, and even the clothing for all the characters that we have grown to love in the Dr. Panda series. It is simple to use and even the youngest of kids can manage all controls independently. It really shines in the hands of older preschoolers and early elementary kids, but we have used this with children younger than 3 with some assistance. On opening the package, there are 51 cards of routine household items. The surface of the cards is easy to clean and made from very sturdy cardboard at its core – making them long lasting tools for play (Our review copy made it through weeks of heavy preschool use and still looks like new). Twelve washable markers come with the set, and I am hoping Dr. Panda will be selling extra marker sets to replenish the kits as needed, although any washable marker set will do the job. On the inside sleeve of the box is a QR code to scan to download the app. AND with that, we are ready to go!
Inside Dr. Panda Plus: Home Designer
Once set-up is complete, open the app and choose either the Design or Quest Mode of play. The Design Mode is a creative sandbox for learning to color – which includes holding a writing utensil, making discernable markings, and having a sense of color. When children first learn to color, they tend to use their arms and hands as a unit, making big strokes. It is more of a gross motor action, and kids tend to use one color to define a whole picture. In addition, many children may need to stand when coloring, so it is perfectly normal if your child chooses to do so. Coloring is an excellent activity to experiment with how to stabilize core musculature and begin to use the arms and hands for refined control. And because the task is low demand – it’s one of the best to use if your child is struggling with prewriting or writing skills. The cards are simple pictures of everyday household objects. The clean design is genius as it directs a child’s eye to the area needing color. I love the fact that the boundaries of the objects are outlined in black, giving prompt feedback to reign in the placement of color. Each card has one item to color and can double as a flashcard once a child has finished coloring it.
The cards are now ready to scan into the app. And it’s a snap! Many of the AR apps that use cards or pictures need to have the device held just so, and the 4D picture goes on and off the screen. Usually, it is near impossible for kids to scan them independently, and by the time it is scanned, kids have moved on to something else. What sets Home Designer away from the pack is once a card is scanned into Home Designer, the object appears on the screen without having to manipulate the iPhone® or iPad® further. The object is then portrayed on the screen in isolation so that kids can match the letters to spell the object’s name. This immediacy of reinforcement and the open play invitation created in Dr. Panda’s Home Designer just further promotes continued investment and engagement. The process is ripe for building both language and motor skills. Just to note - all pictures are reflected as face-forward and interacted with in that way. However, that is the way young kids view and relate to items in play. They are just beginning to define and experiment with spatial concepts.
READ FULL REVIEW HERE of Dr. Panda Plus: Home Designer
by Developmental Play and Learning